Leading Broker: Housing Incentives Fastest Route to Economic Boost, Improved Credit Rating
With financial experts searching for ways to recover from last week’s stunning further downgrading of The Bahamas’ credit rating, a leading real estate broker today said one answer is right in front of our faces and up and down every block.
According to Mario Carey, incentives to encourage a flurry of activity in the housing market, both new construction and sales of existing homes, will spur economic growth in a way that no other quick fix with long-term benefits can.
“The housing market in Western societies is a leading predictor of economic health,” said Carey, founder and president of MCR, one of the country’s top property sales, leasing and management firms.
“Strong sales mean a strong and healthy economy and when sales fall off, it’s just a matter of time until you see a slide in all aspects of an economy.”
More than just an economic barometer, housing sales translate into jobs, he said.
“Every home that is sold generates three full-time jobs, according to research commissioned by the National Association of Realtors in the U.S.,” said Carey. “Here that number would be even greater. In both places, the spin-offs from home ownership are enormous and create sustainable business activity. It is not just the fees generated by the move itself but the ongoing expenses the homeowner assumes – lawn and gardening services, painting, perhaps pool or roofing or plumbing, electrical, air-conditioning, furniture, décor, appliances. There are also the benefits to government from Stamp Tax. On a luxury property sale of $10 million, for example, government immediately collects $1 million in Stamp Tax. Incentives move people at every income level. If the Stamp Tax is reduced to 6% for a specified time, the buyer considering a purchase may be prompted to complete and save a substantial sum when they split the tax with the seller.”
The highly successful broker who has handled more than one billion dollars in transactions in a career that spans three decades pointed to past successes when incentives were offered.
“When the government offered Stamp Tax exemptions for first time home buyers, we saw a tremendous response,” Carey said. “Then when the first $250,000 of a purchase was exempted from real property tax and Stamp Tax, it was another incentive and when the interest on outstanding balances of real property tax forgiveness was announced, that drove hundreds to bring their past due tax bills up to date. Incentives work and there has never been a better or more important time to introduce them to spur the housing market which in turn will show diversification of the economy leading to a strengthening of our credit rating.”
Carey has long argued that real estate should be recognized as the third pillar of the Bahamian economy, tying activity in the market to new construction, remodels, expansion and more.
“If anyone doubts how critical home ownership is to a healthy economy, look at what happens when sales slump,” says Carey. “When the housing market collapsed in 2008, it took the rest of the economy down with it and we are still feeling the repercussions, though I believe the economy is beginning its slow climb back up for the middle to upper middle class family who was so hard hit by the economic freefall.
“I encourage the government to appoint an ad hoc advisory committee comprised of real estate professionals, developers, financial institutions, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and a few successful businesspersons to report back in a relatively short period of time with recommendations for jumpstarting housing sales across the board,” said Carey. “I want to see the day when every Bahamian youngster coming out of school believes that he or she will own a home and that can be their reality. Home ownership is the single fastest route to economic prosperity. And it is one step we can take without damaging the environment or causing long-term negative impacts. It is time to explore the options.”
Three Days to NIB Rate Increase for 2023
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2023 – On April 1st, the second round of increases on contributions at the National Insurance Board will kick in for the Turks and Caicos workforce. Announced last year, the increases were instituted to keep the NIB from running out of money by 2027 as it services a population that is living longer with contributions that had not been increased in 30 years.
As the Government’s new financial year begins, increases at NIB will mean a higher cost for doing business and a higher cost for running the Government.
The private sector is expected to pay contributions at a rate of 11 percent on your taxable income. The hike is up from last year’s 10 per cent; six percent of which is to be paid by the Employer and five percent is to be paid by the Employee. For wages of $2000, this will mean a $200 improvement in income per month to the NIB. As for the burn on residents’ pockets, based on a minimum wage of $1200 monthly salary, that’s at least $60 dollars a month and $720 per year.
Public sector rates will move to 10.15 percent up from 9.15 per cent with the worker paying 4.575 per cent and the Government paying 5.575 per cent; that’s $54 a month and $648 a year at minimum wage.
The NIB rate as of April 1, 2023, will jump to 9 percent for self-employed individuals; For self-employed individuals at minimum wage, that is $108 dollars a month or $1296 per year.
As taxable incomes increase so will the contribution.
The increases follow a 2019 Actuarial review, undertaken every three years, which unearthed that the NIB was facing a dismal future, possible collapse. Contribution rates were growing at a rate much slower than NIB expenses, which included beneficiary payouts. On that trajectory, the NIB’s earnings would be eclipsed by its income by 2027, forcing the worker protection plan to draw down on money saved for economic shocks like Covid-19.
Unsurprisingly, this was deemed untenable, and an immediate increase was recommended.
Despite this scramble to boost earnings, the NIB has simultaneously increased payouts. Payouts for pensions, funeral grants, maternity grants and more will all attract bigger sums.
These incremental increases on contributions and payouts were all consultant recommendations, informed statements from the Board.
Work of NAECOB critical in ensuring high standards in education, says Minister Hanna-Martin
Bahamas Golden Jubilee Events Announced, Celebrations Across 33 Islands & Cays
#TheBahamas, March 27, 2023 – As the 50th anniversary of our nation’s independence approaches, Bahamians everywhere are teeming with excitement and expectancy around the year-long celebrations set by The National Independence Secretariat.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister joined H.E Leslia Miller Brice, Chair of The National Independence Secretariat to unveil the Calendar of Events for the 50th Independence celebrations.
The calendar comprises a host of events, initiatives and recommendations for celebrations throughout all 33 islands of The Bahamas.
At this jubilant occasion the PM stated, “Celebrating independence is about acknowledging the greatness around us, the greatness within us, and the greatness ahead of us.
We are Bahamians. That identity is special.”
View the newly released calendar of events here:
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